January 27, 2011
The Affordable Porsche. Click image to enlarge
By Russell Purcell
Recently I came across an article about how lottery winners tend to spend their newfound wealth. When the journalist conducting the interview asked the winners about their immediate plans for the money, more than 95 per cent of the respondents mentioned that they planned to buy a new car. While this may seem like a typical response to that question, I did find myself somewhat surprised by the fact that of that number, almost half of the lucky winners mentioned the Porsche nameplate when it came down to specifics.
Porsche is unique in that until recently, with the arrival of the Cayenne SUV and Panamera sedan models, the company’s efforts have always been focussed on producing sports cars and sporty roadsters. Porsches have always been fun to drive, but the cars produced by the German firm have also proven durable, reliable, and relatively resistant to rust. Most Porsches are so prized by their owners that they are lovingly cared for and maintained, so there are lots of quality vehicles out there in the second-hand marketplace.
Luckily there are some bargains to be had if you know what to look for and what to avoid. Author Iain Ayre’s new book, The Affordable Porsche, will equip the budding Porsche-phile with the knowledge needed to begin their quest for the perfect car and also help them to avoid some of the pitfalls that often pop up to derail the dream of owning a special automobile.
Each chapter focuses on an individual model or in the case of the 911, generation, and the author points out strengths and weaknesses, the expected costs (time and money) and ease of maintaining, repairing or modifying these cars, as well as suggests which cars (in his opinion) represent the best buys. The thoroughness of his research is obvious, and the book provides such a vast collection of specifics and details that it should prove invaluable should you be looking for a Porsche to park in the garage or driveway.
Production numbers, brief model histories, and the expert opinions of owners, drivers, and technical experts are also included to help you narrow your search parameters and decide which Porsche model best suits your individual needs or lifestyle.
The venerable 911 is one of the longest running automotive models in history, and this iconic car, with its teardrop shape, represents the foundation upon which the Porsche company continues to build its formidable reputation in the automotive world. As a result, there are four chapters devoted to early 911 models, as well as one featuring the 912 – the short-lived four-cylinder cousin that shared its good looks with the 911.
Some purists abhor the front-engine models like the 924 (Audi GT), 944 and 968 and often refer to them as wannabe Porsches, but in reality, these models are great fun to drive, and due to their entry-level pricing, are in relevant abundance should you be looking for an inexpensive entry into the Porsche fold. The latter two were also produced in cabriolet form, so the wind-in-the-hair experience sought by many sports car buyers is available at a bargain price.
One of my favourites, the futuristic 928, also carried its engine up front, but the difference was the car offered supercar performance and luxury wrapped in one of the sexiest automotive designs ever penned, not to mention the throaty growl of a Porsche engineered V8!
The author seems to share a fondness for these futuristic looking missiles and dedicates plenty of ink to the model to help the reader understand the many variants that exist of this special machine.
The Porsche 356 and its various iterations are dream cars for most, so I was pleased to see that Intermeccanica, the Vancouver based boutique car manufacturer, was recognized in this book. The replica machines produced by this storied company are in many ways superior to the original Speedster and Roadsters that they are modelled after and are much easier to acquire and maintain.
The author refers to the first generation 911 models (1963-1970) as the “Porsche Porkers,” and favours them as they are relatively inexpensive, and are often “the most rewarding to drive.” These cars look uncluttered and clean, but a new trend sees many being snapped up by builders looking to hot-rod them up or update their bodywork to look more like later 911 models. As a result, you may want to hasten your search efforts if the goal is to acquire an unmolested version of one of these classics.
Don’t fret, as the mid-engine 914 gets its own chapter, as does its modern equivalent the 986/987 Boxster. While these cars can often be scooped up on the cheap, they are typically very expensive to maintain and restore due to their drivetrain layout. Should one of these handling dynamos still be on your wish list, following the author’s advice may help you find a good one and save you some money and headaches.
Two sections of the book that will prove the most influential to prospective Porsche buyers will be the chapter dedicated to decoding Porsche’s VIN numbers, as well as the thorough appendix focussed on technical specifications for all models and years covered in the book.
The author’s careful research is supported by facts and real-world data culled from interviews he conducted with Porsche owners and brand specialists. The content includes excellent tips for buying, repairing, restoring and servicing Porsche cars, as well as an in-depth look at the process of importing cars that proved very informative. The author’s easy style makes the book easy to read, and most readers will find his tips relevant to any used car purchase.
The Affordable Porsche: The Complete Guide to Buying and Running a Low-Cost Porsche
Author: Iain Ayre
Suggested retail price: CAN$38.99